Living With Johnny

Chapter 29

“What!” I exclaimed.

"I've been arrested, Dad," Johnny informed me again. I asked for the details. Before he could answer, an official person took over the phone and told me that Johnny was being held by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs at London City Airport. They refused to give me any further information.

As soon as I was off the phone, I called Bernard.

"I know," he said, answering my call. "Debora's there. She picked up Joseph and was waiting for Johnny to come through, but he did not. When she enquired about him, she was told he had been detained."

“But why?” I asked.

“At the moment, I don’t know,” he replied. “Just waiting for a cab to take me to the airport. Should be there in half an hour.”

“Well, I’m on my way,” I told him, putting the phone down and grabbing my coat, wallet and keys. On the way through the kitchenette, I told Anne what had happened and that I was on my way to London City Airport.

It took me a good ninety minutes to get to the airport, then another twenty to find somewhere to park and walk to the main building. Once there, I needed to find where Bernard was. The problem was my calls to him went directly to voicemail, a situation I found most annoying. Eventually, after asking at about ten different places, I was informed that HMRC was holding Johnny and that Mr. LeBrun was with them. Then, I was told to take a seat and that somebody would be out to talk to me shortly.

It appeared that their understanding of shortly and mine were somewhat different; it was nearly three-quarters of an hour before anyone came through to me. Then, I was escorted into an interview room, where Bernard joined me.

“How’s Johnny?” I asked.

“Haven't seen him," Bernard replied. "Though I have no doubt, he is OK."

“What? You’re his solicitor, why haven’t you seen him?”

"It's HMRC," Bernard replied. "Things work a bit differently. At the moment, he is being held while under examination, so there is no right of access. If they find anything, then he will be under investigation and I will have the right of access to my client."

“So, what’s happened?” I asked.

"From what I have been told, one of the drug dogs pointed to Johnny in the queue coming through the green channel. He was called over, and his bags examined. There was a quantity of white powder in his bag, which is now being examined. They are also swabbing his bag and everything, all of which will have to be checked. In the meantime, they want to interview you. On this, I do have the right to sit in as your solicitor as you will be interviewed under caution."

Bernard went over a few things with me, then went to the door and told the officer outside that we were ready. A youngish man, who looked no more than eighteen, though was probably in his twenties, came in and switched on the recorder on the table, then inserted two tapes and pressed record. With him was a woman who looked to be in her early thirties.

“Mr. Carlton, I’m Prevention Officer Dawlish, this is Prevention Officer Carter. We would like to ask you some questions about your son’s trip to Paris. I must caution you that you are not obliged to say anything, but anything you do say may be used in evidence. Do you understand?”

After that, there were a series of formalities during which I had to identify myself formally for the recording, as did Bernard. When that was over, the interview began.

“Now Mr. Carlton, I understand that you booked and paid for your son’s flight to Paris?” PO Dawlish stated.

“That’s right,” I replied.

"And this was on Tuesday; bit short notice, wasn't it?"

“It was rather; thought I would give the boys a day at Disneyland for the end of their holidays, also a reward to Johnny for his exam results,” I replied.

“Was that the only reason?” PO Dawlish asked.

“No, I was also a bit concerned about their safety,” I responded.


"There had been an attempt to murder one of my tenants in the early hours of the morning; I thought it might be best if the boys were not around," I answered. PO Dawlish looked shocked. Clearly, my answer had not been what he was expecting.

“Why should anyone attempt to murder one of your tenants?” he asked.

“I suggest you need to speak to DCI Manley at New Scotland Yard about that,” Bernard interrupted. “Mr. Carlton is unable to answer questions which might pertain to that particular enquiry.” The PO did not look happy at this turn of events. However, he recovered and started a new line of questions.

“Your son’s luggage was identified at baggage collection as suspect,” PO Dawlish stated. He looked at me. Evidently, he saw my surprise on my face. “You look surprised?”

“I am,” I responded. “Johnny only had carry-on luggage. There was no reason for him to be at baggage collection.”

“So, your son did not take a large suitcase over with him?” the officer asked.

“No,” I stated. “He had a small shoulder bag. Enough for a change of clothes and some toiletries.”

The PO nodded and made a note on his pad. Then he looked up at me. “Don’t you think it was a bit irresponsible letting your son and his friend go to Paris by themselves?”

“No,” I responded.

“So, you are quite happy to leave them unsupervised in some cheap hotel in Paris?”

“They weren’t in some cheap hotel,” I stated. “In fact, I think cheap hotels are somewhat impossible to find in Paris. The boys were staying at my brother’s apartment.”

“Your brother lives in Paris?”

“No, he and his partner have an apartment there. Members of the family use it from time to time,” I answered.

“And who is your brother?”

"Robert Benjamin Hugh Clayton," Bernard answered. I was surprised by Bernard's use of my brother's full name. He's gone as Ben since primary school, when there were five other Roberts in his class — a circumstance complicated by the fact that one of those Roberts was our next-door neighbour from the other side from Bernard's. Bernard, I realised, was one of the few people around who knew Ben's full name.

“And where does Robert Clayton reside?” was the next question.

Again, Bernard answered, giving an address that I did not even know. The PO made another note.

“So, your brother was not there to supervise them," he stated. "Don't you think you were a bit irresponsible. Two youths in a foreign country. How would they manage?”

"No doubt, quite well," I stated. "My son has spent most of his holidays in France with my ex-wife. He is quite fluent in French and familiar with Paris, having visited it quite a few times. As for supervision, I have no doubt Madame Sourier would keep an eye on them.”

“And who is Madame Sourier?” he asked.

“She is the concierge of the building my brother’s apartment is in.”

“And why would she take any interest in the activities of your son and his friend?”

“Because my brother and his partner own the building,” I replied.

Just then, there was a knock on the door, the PO stopped the recording and asked whoever was outside to come in. He was handed a slip of paper. He looked at it, then looked up at the messenger who just nodded.

PO Dawlish looked at me. “Do you know why your son would be carrying a kilo of icing sugar?”

I laughed. The PO gave me a dirty look. "Vanilla sugar," I explained. "My brother is a keen cook; Madame Sourier makes her own vanilla sugar. My brother says it is a lot better than anything he can buy, so when any of us goes over there, we always bring a bag of it back for him.”

"Well, the suitcase has tested positive for traces of cocaine. That needs to be explained," the PO stated. With that, the interview was terminated, and Bernard and myself were left in the room. About ten minutes later, we were escorted to a larger interview room, where Johnny was seated.

“Dad,” he cried as we walked in. He jumped up and put his arms around me. I gave him a pat on the back and told him there was nothing to worry about.

"There are a few things we need to clear up," PO Dawlish stated. "First, where did you get the luggage bag, as apparently, you did not take it with you?"

“Bought it yesterday in the flea market,” Johnny answered.

“Why did you buy it?” Dawlish asked.

"I had bought some paintings, and they were too big to bring back as hand luggage, so I needed something to pack them in," Johnny replied.

Dawlish looked at his companion. She nodded. “There were three paintings in the bag.”

"Right," Dawlish sighed. "Look, sonny, if you need to buy additional luggage when you’re overseas, buy new from a respectable outlet. That bag had a trace of cocaine in it. It had clearly been used to transport some of the drug at some time. That's why the dog pointed it, which is why we pulled you over."

“Is that it?” Johnny asked.

“Yes,” Dawlish replied.

It was not; there was quite a bit of paperwork which had to be sorted out and dealt with. In the end, it was getting on for two before we got out.

“Now what?” I asked.

“I could do with some food,” Johnny stated. “Missed breakfast due to the early flight, and that lot there didn’t feed me.”

Bernard told me to leave my car where it was, then he hailed a taxi. Ten minutes later, we were in an East End café which Bernard seemed to know. They did an all-day breakfast, much to Johnny's delight.

I asked Bernard why he had given Ben’s full name.

“The last thing I wanted was them to connect Johnny with the film star. It would have been out before we were. Can you imagine the headlines, ‘Film star’s nephew stopped in drugs check’?” I had to agree he had a point there.

“What was that address you gave?” I enquired. “I would have told them Manston.”

“Yes, which would have identified who Ben was,” Bernard pointed out. “So, I gave them the address of the London flat. That’s where they are registered to vote, in any event.”

“But their flat is on Piccadilly,” I stated. “That’s not the address you gave.”

“Yes, the main doors are on Piccadilly, but the post boxes are on the side door,” Bernard stated. “They are next to the goods lift. So, the postal address is the side street, not Piccadilly.” With that piece of information, he smiled the smile of a satisfied solicitor who has just pulled something off.

“So, what happens now?” Johnny asked.

“Well,” Bernard stated. “We get a cab to my office. Joseph is going there when he has finished at school, then the pair of you can get off to Hampstead. I, no doubt, will have a pile of paperwork to catch up on. Your father, no doubt, is going to get a cab back to London City and then drive home."

Which is what happened. I got back to the Priory a little after six to find the apartment empty. Then, I remembered we got the kitchen back today, so I went down to the yard and across to it. Anne was seated at the table, reading; there was the delicious smell of something slow roasting in the oven.

“Everything sorted?” Anne asked.

"Yes, Luv," I replied. "A big fuss about nothing."

I then spent the best part of an hour over a meal of slow-roast pork and salad, telling Anne about the day’s event.

Given that Johnny was away till Monday, I suggested we should take a break for the weekend. After some discussion, Anne asked if we could visit her mother-in-law from her first marriage. We had invited her to the wedding, but she had been unable to come due to a recent hip replacement, and we had not been able to get to see her since. 

Anne phoned, and Grace, her mother-in-law, confirmed there was no problem with us visiting for a couple of days. I had met Grace on a number of occasions; she had always come down to stay with Anne on the anniversary of John's death in October. The two of them went together to the cemetery to place flowers on John’s grave.

Grace had been a maths teacher in Chelmsford but had retired five years after John’s death and moved to Cambridge to be near her daughter and grandchild. Since then, we had seen less of her — just her annual trips down for the anniversary of John's death. We had visited a couple of times over the years but never stayed. It had been a case of calling in when passing, usually when I was on my way to some conference in Cambridge. I would drop Anne off in the morning on my way in and pick her up in the evening.

This time, though, it would be different. Anne arranged for us to stay Saturday night. I got the feeling that somehow Anne felt she needed Grace’s blessing on her remarriage.

The weekend in Cambridge went fine. Grace was happy for us both. Her only complaint was we should have done it years ago.

"I know you missed my John, gal, but that was no excuse for not making a new life for yourself," she told Anne over lunch in a local pub.

The one surprise of the weekend was meeting Grace’s daughter, Jane, whom I had never met. I knew from Anne that Jane had some position at the University but always presumed it was some administrative post. The few times Grace had said anything about Jane, when we had met, was that she had been complaining about paperwork or bureaucracy in the University.

Jane and her husband joined us Sunday lunch with their three children. I could see why Grace had wanted to move nearer to her grandchildren. During the conversation, I was surprised to find that Jane was a senior tutor in the Department of Engineering at the University. What was more interesting was she knew my maths book and recommended it to students as ancillary reading. As the University press did not publish it, it was a bit difficult to get it set as a course book. She did, though, give me some pointers as to what I should include in the new edition. More importantly, she also told me what I could leave out.

Lunch was long and slow, and it was getting on four by the time we were all getting ready to leave. Just then, my mobile rang. I took the call; it was Johnny.

“Dad, I’m coming home today, can you pick me up at the station?”

“Have you got your tickets yet?” I asked.

“No, I’m on the way to the station,” he replied.

“Then get the train to Chelmsford; we’ll pick you up there,” I told him. We chatted briefly, and then he rang off. I wondered what had happened that he was coming home early. I was also worried about the timing. It would take him about half an hour to get to Liverpool Street Station, and it was just thirty minutes from there to Chelmsford. He could be there in about an hour. It would take us at least an hour twenty, if not longer, depending on the traffic on the M11, to get to Chelmsford.

I mentioned this to Anne as we were making our way out of Cambridge.

"Don't worry about it, Mike," she told me. "You were quite happy to let him loose for two days in Paris; I can’t see any problem with him waiting around for a bit at Chelmsford station.”

In the end, I need not have bothered. It turned out it took him longer than I had estimated to get to Liverpool Street. I had failed to allow for engineering works on the underground. Then, he just missed the train to Chelmsford and had to wait. As it was, we arrived at Chelmsford station before his train got in.

When he did arrive, it was quite clear that we had a very unhappy boy on our hands.

The drive back to the Priory was, to say the least, tense. Johnny was not in the mood to be communicative. Any question was responded to with at best a grunt, mostly with sullen silence. I tried a number of approaches to find out what was wrong, but none was successful, and I was beginning to run out of ideas. Anyway, Anne told me to leave it, that Johnny would tell us what we needed to know when we needed to know.

I must admit I was not so sure about that, but it was clear that my questioning was getting nowhere, so I took Anne's advice and left it. The drive home was done in silence.

Once back in the apartment, Anne asked Johnny if he had eaten. He gave a mumbled reply which finished with the information that he was going to his room. With that, he left us. I started to go after him.

Anne put her arm out and stopped me. "Leave him, Mike," she instructed. "He'll talk when he's ready. If you push him, he will never say anything."

He clearly was not ready to talk the following morning when a very sullen Johnny nibbled a single slice of toast over breakfast. Although his first class was that afternoon, he went in with Anne, saying he needed to sort out what course books he required. I got a very strong feeling it was more an excuse to avoid having to talk to me.

Once the pair had set off for college shortly after eight, I went and started my regular, Monday-morning activity of dealing with emails. One was from Bernard asking me to call him at the office when I had time. I called him just after nine, when I was reasonably certain he would have arrived at his office.

"Thanks for calling, Mike," he said when his secretary put me through to him. I had got the feeling she had been instructed to put me through the moment I rang.

"What's up?" I asked, though I had a pretty good idea.

“Our boys,” Bernard replied. “Do you know what’s gone on?”

“No, I was hoping you could tell me,” I responded. “I’ve had a very silent, sullen boy who has been looking daggers at anyone who speaks to him.”

“Ditto,” Bernard stated. “Joseph has been in a real mood since yesterday afternoon. He even snapped at Mrs. Beckstein this morning.”

It took me a bit to remember Mrs. Beckstein, a small, dowdy Jewish woman who had been Bernard's housekeeper for almost as long as Joseph had been alive. I had only met her a few times; well, it was not often I was at Bernard's townhouse on a weekday morning, and she only did Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The thing about her was she was the type of person who was everybody's favourite aunt. In fact, if I remembered correctly, Joseph called her Aunt Miriam. The idea of anyone snapping at her seemed impossible.

“Anne told me not to push it,” I stated.

"Ditto, here," Bernard replied. "Debora told me to leave well enough alone, that everything would sort itself out in time. I just feel so bloody useless. Something is hurting my boy, and I don't know what."

“So, what happened?” I asked.

“Don’t know,” Bernard answered. “Everything seemed OK Sunday morning. Debs and I went to Uncle Sol’s for dinner. When we got back, there was no Johnny; Joseph just says that he had to get home for college.

"There was more to it than that. Joseph is looking as miserable as hell and snaps your head off if you try to talk to him."

“At least you’re getting an answer,” I commented. “All Johnny does is mumble something that is totally undecipherable.”

“What are we going to do?”

"What can we do?" I replied. "I think this one is up to the womenfolk. No doubt, they will be chatting."

We talked for a couple of minutes about Ian’s trial on Wednesday. Nothing important, just instructions of where to find Bernard when I got to the court.

There being no other emails that needed urgent attention, I decided to do some work on my maths book. Specifically, on affine transformations, but I needed to do some research on them first. I had left them out of the first edition as I had not seen any general practical uses for them. That had been a mistake. They had to go into the second edition. First, though I had to research a bit about them as it was many years since I had done anything in that area.

About eleven, I decided to take a break and make myself some tea. I had just poured the water into the pot when my phone pinged. Checking, I saw that I had a message from Johnny.

“Soz dad I knw ur worried im OK."

I was not entirely confident I understood what he was saying but sent a text back. "OK, if u want to talk call me."

Although I still did not know what was wrong, I felt a bit better knowing that he was prepared to contact me, even if he was not ready to talk about the problem yet. Feeling a bit cheered up, I poured myself a mug of tea then went back to my writing.

The next couple of hours were highly productive. I managed to knock out a chapter on affine transformations. It would have to be expanded, and I needed to write some good examples to be included, but the gist of what had to be imparted was there. I now had a robust framework to build on, which is what one always needs when writing non-fiction. I suspect you probably need it when writing fiction as well.

One thing I have learnt is not to push a subject too far in one sitting. So, once I had the framework for affine transformations sorted, I put it to one side, took a break and made some tea, then started on an article about coral bleaching. Not really my field, but a good technical writer can write about most things, and this was straight copy production for a Sunday supplement. Get the salient points over in seven hundred and fifty words or less. It was the photos that were important; my words were just dressing.

By four, I had got the article finished and sent off to the editors. I decided not to have a go at anything else. So, I made my way down to the yard and across to the kitchen. Started to make preparations for the evening meal. It is a bit of pain having your living accommodation in one building and your kitchen in another, but the kitchen in the main house was about twenty times the size of the kitchenette in the apartment and a much better place to cook.

Anne phoned me just gone five. Said she might as well hang on for Johnny to finish his classes as she needed to use the library. It would save me having to drive in to pick up Johnny. I had to agree with her. It did, though, mean a very late evening meal as it would be past eight before they got home. Well, it gave me plenty of time to prep.

I had just started when the landline phone rang. It gave me a bit of a shock.

“Uncle Mike?” a voice enquired before I could even say anything.

“Micah?” The only person who calls me Uncle Mike besides Joseph is Micah, and it did not sound at all like Joseph.

“Yes,” he replied. “Can I speak to Johnny?”

“Sorry, he’s got late classes tonight. Won’t be back to gone eight,” I told him.

“Shit!” Micah exclaimed. "Sorry, Uncle."

“You sound upset,” I commented.

“I’m worried,” he informed me.

“About Joseph?” I asked.

“Yes. How did you know?”

"Because Micah, I'm worried about Johnny. Your father is worried about your brother. Something happened over the weekend, and I think we would all like to know what. Do you have any idea?"

"No," Micah replied. "I was hoping Johnny could tell me. Joseph has been in a foul mood since we got back yesterday afternoon. He's at the dojo now. I got him to agree to talk with me when he gets back; that'll be sometime around nine."

It seemed that neither of us had any information that could help the other.

Once dinner was prepped, I decided to look round the rest of the house to see what it was like. So, I opened the door to the hall only to find myself faced with a sheet of very heavy polythene attached firmly all-round the doorframe. It was clear we were not meant to go into the house that way. I tried the door which led to the stairs for the guest wing—same result. The kitchen was sealed off from the rest of the house—no doubt, on Matt's orders.

I went out through the back door, then walked around to the front of the house, entering by the front door. Then I realised why Matt had sealed off the kitchen. The hallway, upon which no work was being done, was covered in a layer of builders’ dust — no doubt, the residue of all the plaster they were tearing down in the remodelling of the upper floors. It occurred to me that it was probably not a good idea to explore further, so I exited by the way I had come in. Having at least a couple of hours before I had to start cooking, I went for a walk around the grounds. 

As I went around behind the Stable House, I met Maddie coming the opposite way.

“Ah, I was just coming to see you,” she stated.


“No,” she replied. “Just wanted to ask if it was alright for us to pick some raspberries from your garden?”

“Didn’t know we had any,” I stated.

"Yes, they're over in the walled garden," she pointed out. It was a surprise to me, but then, I don't think I had stepped foot in the walled garden since we got back from our honeymoon. Arthur had taken over responsibility for the gardens, which reminded me that I needed to sort out something about the gardens while he was recuperating. It might have to be for longer with the way his business was building up. I could not see him having much time to care for the gardens.

“Well, if we’ve got some, you might as well pick some,” I stated. “Actually, could use a few myself for dessert.”

"Oh, there's plenty," Maddie informed me. I told her that I would go back and get a bowl to put some in. That elucidated the reply that they had plenty of containers and that I could have one. She slipped inside the van and came out shortly after, carrying a couple of the plastic trays that you get takeaways in; handing me one, she set off in the direction of the walled garden. I followed.

About half an hour later, I returned to the kitchen with a tray full of raspberries and set about making cranachan. Once I had put the filled glasses in the fridge to chill, I decided I might as well stay in the kitchen and read. Well, it was a lot bigger than even the living room in the apartment, and the sofa in the kitchen was a lot more comfortable than anything we had in the apartment. When we had moved, I had been all for throwing it out, but Anne had insisted that we put it in the kitchen so we had a seating area. She told me she wanted to be able to sit and chat with me when I was cooking. Johnny had supported her in the idea, so I had given way.

On balance, it was a good decision.

About seven-thirty, I formed the gehakt ballen, then put about half a pack of butter into the deep pan to melt. Once it had melted, I put the Dutch meatballs into fry for five minutes, on each side, then added chicken stock to cover. Once they were simmering away, I put the oven on for the oven chips. About ten to eight, I put the oven chips in the oven. Ten minutes later, the timer on the meatballs pinged. I took them out of the broth and put them on a plate to keep warm in the top oven. Just as I had done that, I heard Anne's car pull into the yard.

I opened the back door to let them know I was in the kitchen. Both informed me they needed to change but would be with me in ten minutes. I went back to making dinner. A couple of large spoonsful of smooth peanut butter were added to the broth that the meatballs had poached in. Then I added a Worcestershire sauce and Happy Boy Sweet Chilli sauce, and finally a good glug of dark soy sauce. I know it is not the traditional way to make a saté sauce, but it works and tastes good.

Anne and Johnny came down from the apartment just as the timer on the oven chips pinged. Taking three bottles of Grolsch from the fridge, I put them on the table, then served up the meal. Anne got glasses from the cupboard and placed them next to the bottles.

Johnny looked at the beer. “Not wine tonight?”

“No, Johnny, don’t think it would go with this,” I answered.

Johnny looked at his plate.

"What is it, Dad?" he enquired.

“Gehakt ballen met friet en satésaus,” I replied, taking a dollop of mayonnaise from the bowl and dumping it on my chips.

“Where’s it from,” Johnny asked, dipping a chip into some of the sate sauce and taking a bite. He poured his beer and took a swig.

“It’s Dutch,” I informed him.

“This sauce is good,” he replied. "You’re right; it goes better with beer. What do you think of it, Anne?"

“I like it. It’s one of your dad’s favourite dishes.”

"Then why haven't you made it before," Johnny mumbled with a mouth full of meatball. "This is good."

“Yes, it is,” I stated. “Though not particularly healthy. So, I only make it occasionally. Today felt like a good day to make it.”

Johnny showed how much he enjoyed it by scoffing his entire plate of meatballs, chips and salad in the time it took me to get through one meatball. He then asked if there was more. Fortunately, there were more meatballs and saté sauce; there was also plenty of salad; he could help himself to that. There were no more chips, so he had to make do with bread to mop the sauce up.

"How was college?" I asked Anne whilst Johnny was refilling his plate.

"Not bad," she replied. "For a start, I'm not the oldest person in the class."

“You’re not?”

“No, there’s a woman, Margaret, who is older than me and a chap in a wheelchair who is about the same age.”

“In a wheelchair?”

“Yes, he was an electrical engineer working on the gird; broke his back in a fall,” she informed me.

“Christ! He fell from one of the pylons?”

"No," Anne laughed. "He was telling us about it at lunch. He fell off the stepladder putting up the Christmas decorations."

“That’s shit,” Johnny stated.

“It is, rather,” Anne agreed. “Turned out the ladder was faulty, and the manufacturers have made a good settlement, which is paying for him to retrain in computing.”

“How about Margaret? I enquired. “What’s her story?”

“Fifty-year-old widow,” Anne said. “Her husband was a lot older; she was the second wife. Children left home; both emigrated. Husband dropped dead last year in a sauna of ill repute, leaving her, in her own words, 'with a small fortune and a lot of time'. It seems, however, fifty-year-old widows are not popular on the lunch and drinks circuit. The wives are too worried that the widow is after their husbands. Margaret said twelve months of that was enough, and she is going to do the degree she missed out on when she married her late husband."

“You seem to like her,” I stated.

“I do. I know about how widows are treated. By the way, once the renovations are finished, I would like to have both Margaret and Tom over for a meal."

“Don’t see a problem with that,” I stated. “How was your day, Johnny?”

“Not bad once class started,” he stated. “Had a bad morning. Just sat in the library thinking.”

"Do you want to tell me about it?" I asked.

“Later, Dad, later.”

"OK," I replied. I was pleased that at least he seemed prepared to talk.

Once we had finished our meal of meatballs and chips, I served the cranachan for dessert. Johnny scoffed his quickly and asked if he could have the extra one I had made. I do not think he realised how much whiskey there was in each glass full of cranachan, given that, I was quite happy to let him finish off the last one. It might make him a bit more relaxed and, hopefully, more talkative. Maybe he will even tell me what was wrong.

Cranachan finished, I started to clear the pots.

“I’ll do that,” Anne stated. "You two get off and have a walk and a chat; you need it. Why don't you go down to the mill race? You need to refresh your memory about it, Mike, if you are going to speak to the historical society about it next week."

I had forgotten all about that. Do not know how they had got onto it, but the secretary of the local historical society had phoned and asked if I would give a talk about the tide mill. Unfortunately, his call was answered by Anne, who knew him, and she had promised him that I would. It was next Monday.

Johnny and I set off across the yard. It was had gone nine and well past nautical twilight. Not really light enough to walk down to the mill race. We just followed the main paths around the ground. Fortunately, it was a clear night, and the moon was fairly bright.

“So, what went wrong at the weekend?” I asked.

“Joseph told me to get lost,” Johnny answered.  There was a sob in his voice.